KEY MATCH-UPS AHEAD OF AUSTRALIA-NEW ZEALAND TRANS-TASMAN RUGBY LEAGUE TEST
Matt Scott (Australia) v Jesse Bromwich (New Zealand)
Whoever wins this battle can make claims to be the world’s best prop. It will also most likely decide the Test. Queensland country boy Matt Scott is as tough as teak, loves hard work and boasts form hotter than his hometown Longreach’s average temperature. But Melbourne star Jesse Bromwich has stolen the spotlight ahead of the Test, earning plaudits from even Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith for his scary combination of size, speed and endurance. Sure to make an impact on Friday night – especially when he collides with fellow man mountain Scott.
Greg Inglis (Australia) v Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (New Zealand)
Losing your No.1 fullback would usually sound alarm bells for a Test team – not the Kangaroos. Strike weapon Greg Inglis will don the familiar No.1 jersey after the withdrawal of Billy Slater (shoulder), setting up a mouth-watering showdown. Inglis has again revelled in the role at South Sydney this year, averaging 137m and almost four tackle breaks a game. Like Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens said: “He’s a fair replacement.” But Tuivasa-Sheck’s stats are even better, averaging a league high 235m since claiming legend Anthony Minichiello’s No.1 Roosters jersey. A clash worth the price of admission.
Johnathan Thurston (Australia) v Kieran Foran (New Zealand)
Johnathan Thurston may be one of 10 new faces in the Test team since Australia’s 2014 Four Nations final loss but he is arguably the most important addition. The two-time Golden Boot winner may be black and blue after being heavily targeted by NRL rivals this year but he looks set to make the Kiwis see red after returning to his scheming best. Meanwhile, the stage is set for Kieran Foran to silence the knockers after a disastrous season start with NRL club Manly and provide a perfect foil for his livewire halves partner Shaun Johnson.